Online Bible Commentary
Do not Refuse Him who Speaks
Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (NIV)
The writer’s purpose for his letter was to encourage Hebrew Christians of the first century to remain steadfast in their Christian beliefs, so as not to return to Judaism. In this passage, the writer of the book of Hebrews concludes his warning to not miss out on salvation, which began in verse fifteen. Previously he proclaimed the Old Covenant Law of Moses to be a covenant of fear and judgment. Next he proclaimed the New Covenant of Jesus Christ to be a covenant of blessings. In so doing, he contrasted the Law of Moses with the grace of Christ.
Now he completes the warning with a call to not refuse Him who speaks. God spoke His revelation of the Old Covenant from the fire and smoke of Mount Sinai. He spoke his revelation of the New Covenant through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
His warning to not miss out on salvation is made clear with the words “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks” (v. 25a). The same God gave both covenants. The writer is warning not to refuse this God.
Those under the Law “did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth” (v. 25b). God spoke from earth, from Mount Sinai, the Law. Those who disobeyed the Law did not escape the judgment of God.
“How much less will we (escape judgment), if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” (v. 25c). The literal Greek for this verse is: “Much rather we, those turning away from Heaven.” The writer is saying that those who reject Christ will be less able to escape judgment than those who disobey the Law. Judgment is more certain for those who reject the grace of God than for those who disobey the Law. We may not be able to obey the commandments of God, but it is worse to reject His grace which covers those sins.
God’s voice from Mount Sinai “shook the earth” (v. 26a), but God promises from Heaven “Once More I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens” (v. 26b). This is a reference to Haggai 2:6: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.’” God caused an earthquake (Ex 19:18) on Mount Sinai. He will cause shaking of not only the earth, but also of the heavens at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16-21).
So, “created things” (v. 27a), the heavens and Earth, will be removed, but the Kingdom of God, “what cannot be shaken” (v. 27b), will remain. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (v. 28-29).
The Kingdom of God cannot be shaken. It will remain. It is everlasting. So, as Christians, we should be thankful and we should worship God with reverence and awe. We are reminded here that the judgment of God still remains for those who reject His grace. He is a consuming fire for those who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They will spend eternity in the fires of Hell.
But for those who accept Christ, theirs is the Kingdom of God. It cannot be shaken. All created things will disappear, but the Kingdom of God will remain forever. It is our reward for staying faithful to the God of the Bible, the God of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
He speaks to all of us all of the time. He pleads with us to come to Him. See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks.